Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Does Individual Resilience Influence Entrepreneurial Success?

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Does Individual Resilience Influence Entrepreneurial Success?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Resilience is emerging as a critical phenomenon in entrepreneurship with entrepreneurs, academics, journalists and bloggers pointing to its importance to success (Suster, 2009, Featherstone, 2009, Hedner et al., 2011, Francis, 2014, Jozefak, 2011). However, resilience is a term with multiple definitions applicable to literatures as diverse such as mechanics, scientific methods, psychology, manufacturing, social research, climate change, and sustainability science causing some to question its status as a fashionable buzz-word (Alexander, 2013). Bergstrom and Dekker (2014) note that resilience is a fractal phenomenon whose recognisable and recurring features vary at the spatial scales of micro (human), meso (organisations), macro (societal) and cross-scale (social-ecological).

Within the domain of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial resilience is variously conceptualised as a phenomenon associated with distinct aspects of entrepreneurship, most frequently the individual, the venture, and the team (Hayward et al., 2010, Hedner et al., 2011, Hmieleski and Carr, 2008). This multiplicity of conceptualisations mirrors that of other domains and presents a challenge to the field in measuring, understanding and therefore enhancing entrepreneurial resilience for the benefit of the community. In response to the evolution, and broad adoption/adaption, of resilience across many domains Masten (2014, p. 6) has recently redefined resilience as "the capacity of a dynamic system to adapt successfully to disturbances that threaten system function, viability, or development". Building on this definition, Bergstrom and Dekker (2014) open the path for entrepreneurship scholars to develop an agreed conceptualisation of resilience at each spatial scale of interest (for example: entrepreneur, venture, team, society or social-ecological) to facilitate its operationalization in research. Accordingly, the term entrepreneurial resilience could remain as Welsh (2014) suggests, a metaphor for any experience of recovery or "bouncing back" after adversity at any spatial or temporal scale whether that be the individual, the team, the venture, the society or business/ecological system/subsystem. Entrepreneurship scholars could hone the definition, measurement and research of resilience at each scale thereby building the body of unambiguous knowledge regarding the experience of resilience in the differing contexts of entrepreneurship, ultimately providing an agreed conceptualisation and operationalization for each spatial scale of interest.

In this paper, resilience is examined at Bergstrom and Dekker's micro level (2014) the entrepreneur. The search for the character, trait or situational premise that explains the capacity of a person to function effectively in the face of the adversity, stress, and uncertainty of entrepreneurship, and which differentiates them from non-entrepreneurs, has generated considerable discussion (Alvarez, 2005, Gartner, 1988, Sarasvathy, 2004, Miller, 2015). The lens of individual level resilience provides explanatory value as to "why some individuals, and not others, are able to develop successful new ventures" (Hmieleski and Carr, 2008, Baron, 2002) providing impetus to bring the teaching and development of resilience into the entrepreneurship curriculum (Awogbenle and Iwuamadi, 2010, Morris et al., 2013, Duening, 2010).

The objective of this research is to test if an operationalized, well accepted conceptualisation of individual level resilience can be used to predict entrepreneurial success and therefore offer the field a conceptualization for use in theory building and future research around resilience in entrepreneurs. To do so, differences between the level of resilience displayed in entrepreneur and other populations, and the the role of individual level resilience in entrepreneurial success, are investigated. Findings suggest that individual level resilience in entrepreneurs can be conceptualised as hardiness and persistence, does predict entrepreneurial success when indicated by individual level variables, and can be adequately captured by the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (10-item). …

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